This beautiful piece of architecture is the Mubarak Mandi Palace in Jammu. It was at one time home to the Dogra dynasty. Constructed bit by bit over 150 years, with various rulers adding their own story to its history, today it stands with quiet grace on the edge of the old walled city of Jammu, overlooking the open valley of the river Tawi.
I studied within a 2 km radius of this beauty for two years and never knew her. Because I was too busy being angry.
I was 16, had just finished school, and was raring to begin my college adventure, when my folks decided to wrap up life in mumbai, the place I called home and move to Jammu. So I came, with my head bloated with a big city attitude and a heart hankering for the sea, to a city which didn’t care about the ocean or my metro lineage. Instead of a fancy coed college, I had to join a sort of a modified college school for girls with a long white punjabi suit and white sneakers as uniform. To my hormone addled brain filled with Beverly 90210 imagery, strapping myself in a uniform once more was absolute injustice.
I was angry, angry with my parents for leaving home, angry with people around for not realising what great sacrifice I was making in living here, angry with the long winters and stormy summers....angry with whatever spoke Jammu.
In the process I missed out on life in this city of pinhole alleys, and Rajma chawal and purple mountains and fat kalaadis and old temples and kulfis pyramids and laughing streams and pink mornings and ripe old buildings. Now having travelled through umpteen cities and mental blocks, I know that home is not a place but a feeling. And that life doesn’t owe you anything but life itself. You can use the time you have to rage against it or create art like this building, one gorgeous mindful brick at a time.